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Nice and the French Riviera Spotlight

Nightlife

Nice boasts some of the most happening nightlife along the Côte d’Azur. Kick off your evening with an aperitif at an outdoor café – some of the more lively sections of the city in which to indulge include Cours Saleya and its surrounding Vieux Nice, and the slightly more subdued but fantastically located beachfront Promenade des Anglais.

If you’re intent on a night of dancing, start off at the stylish Le Before (18 Rue des Congrès; 04-93-87-85-59), a popular aperitif bar that caters to a sophisticated “before-clubbing” crowd with lounge and club music. It’s ideally situated for a follow-up at L'Ambassade (18 Rue du Congrès; 04-93-88-88-87), where attractive crowds dress to the nines to wiggle past the restrictive door and into the party. Trendy 20- and 30-somethings also pour into L’Odace (29 Rue Alphonse Karr; 06-26-42-24-85; www.odace-club.com), formerly Le Grand Escurial. Sleek Asian-accented décor fills out this largest dance club in Nice, which packs in more than a thousand revelers who come to dance to the mixes of resident DJs who spin everything from House to Latin. One of the hottest gay clubs in town is the double-decker Blue Boy (9 Rue Jean-Baptiste Spinetta; 04-93-44-68-24; www.blueboy.fr), a Riviera institution known for its cutting edge music and popular theme nights.

For a sophisticated lounge, head straight to the swanky Le Relais (37 Promenade des Anglais; 04-93-16-64-00; www.hotel-negresco-nice.com) in the Hotel Negresco, the next best thing to splurging on a room here. Savor the decadence of the legendary hotel and the glamour of the Riviera while being served by white-jacketed waiters and serenaded by piano music in the museum-quality bar, with its Oriental carpets, tapestries, velvet touches, and fine furnishings.

If you’re craving a casual evening out in the company of fellow Anglophones, Old Nice is chockfull of popular bars that cater to the English-speaking crowd. Wayne’s (15 Rue de la Préfecture; 04-93-13-46-99; www.waynes.fr) tops the list as a regular host for live bands and wide-screen sports telecasts, as well as a Sunday karaoke night. Other reliable haunts, particularly popular with young, international crowds, include O'Neill's Irish Pub (40 Rue Droite; 04-93-80-05-75) with its welcoming Irish and live music, and the Scandinavian-themed Thor (32 Cours Saleya; 04-93-62-49-90; www.thor-pub) with its superlative open-air terrace on the Cours Saleya and tempting happy-hour specials (think all-you-can-drink wine for the ladies for just 3 euros on Tuesdays).

The Italian-style Opéra de Nice (4-6 Rue St-François-de-Paule; in season Sept-June; box office Mon-Thu, Sat 9am-6pm, Fri 9am-8pm; 04-92-17-40-00; 8€-85€; www.opera-nice.org), meanwhile, is the major cultural venue along the Riviera, with large-scale operas, symphonies, ballets, and concerts commanding the stage at this fine Charles Garnier-designed (architect of the Opera Garnier in Paris) venue.

Of the two casinos in town, we prefer the classy Le Ruhl Casino (1 Promenade des Anglais; Fri-Sun 10am-5am, Mon-Thu 10am-4am; 04-97-03-12-22; www.lucienbarriere.com), which offers some 300 slot machines and a more formal gaming room (fee entry from 10€; jacket required) with blackjack, roulette, and more; a feather-and-sequined cabaret show is also produced here on Friday and Saturday nights (Sept-Jun; 22€ cover with one drink; dinner packages also available for 60€).

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